With all the necessary caveats about polling in Afghanistan, this new BBC poll finds a surprisingly robust acceptance among Afghans for the U.S. troop presence:
Of more than 1,500 Afghans questioned, 70% said they believed Afghanistan was going in the right direction – a big jump from 40% a year ago.
Of those questioned, 68% now back the presence of US troops in Afghanistan, compared with 63% a year ago.
For Nato troops, including UK forces, support has risen from 59% to 62%.
These are eye-opening numbers considering the results of the last BBC poll on Afghanistan, which the British news agency published in September. Back then, only 44 percent believed their country was on the right track. (A near-contemporaneous poll from the International Republican Institute pegged that right-track number at 62 percent.) While I can’t find an exact question in the previous poll about the presence of U.S. troops, only 47 percent had positive feelings about the United States in September. So perhaps the poll is an outlier. But if not, then Gen. McChrystal may have been on to something when he contended that the behavior of U.S. forces was more important than the presence of U.S. forces in terms of Afghan perceptions of occupation.